December Favorites

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Podcast

sword-and-scale

Sword and Scale – Another true crime podcast I have become obsessed with? Shocking! Though Sword and Scale just ended their third season and is on a break until January, the archives are full of fascinating episodes.

TV Show(s)

This Is Us & American Housewife – My two new favorite shows couldn’t be any more different. This Is Us is thought provoking, feel good, and world changing. To even begin to describe the premise of the show would ruin a big surprise and plot twist. I admittedly cry at almost every episodes. The writers of this show better clean house at all awards shows in the near future. It’s that good.
American Housewife is just politically incorrect enough to be fantastic. AH follows a plus size mom of three kids with a well meaning and supportive husband. She has to navigate her way through the social hierarchy of a status hungry, and debatably always hungry, suburban oasis. Great to help you lighten up from all that true crime podcast binge listening.

Show I’ve Been Netflix-ing

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Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – Think Samantha from SATC meets Hercule Poirot, set in the 1920’s in Melbourne. Smart, yet salacious, this lady detective deals with past and present injustices in an always entertaining way. Great for a binge watch, or treat yourself to an episode an evening to avoid going through the three seasons so quickly.

Wine

Trader Joe’s Tusk ‘N Red – My corkscrew betrayed me a few weeks ago. I am awaiting my new one as a Christmas gift and in the mean time, I had to find a great wine with a screw off cap. My favorite rosé’s from Trader Joe’s have screw tops, but it’s winter after all I love a good red at the end of a long week! I bought this on a whim and it’s a great red blend. Let it breathe a little before drinking and you’ll be downing a couple of glasses in one sitting!

Recipe

Katharine Hepburn’s brownies – extremely gooey, easy to make, and delicious. If you like really rich brownies, these will be your new favorite.

 

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Small Acts of Sustainability

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Sustainability is an interesting topic to bring up this time of year. The holidays are about consumption. Buying more to prove you care for your loved ones. Buying them gifts they don’t really want or need just to get them something, anything at all. This year, why not take steps to break that cycle?

So. Let’s talk gifts. Christmas, birthday, all of it.

When you are getting gifts for those on your list, put a little more thought into it. Brainstorm. What do they really need? A person only requires so many mugs from Anthropologie or posters or cheap tshirts with funny phrases on them. I don’t often buy gifts for friends nowadays. I follow the rule of always sending a card, but I only send them a gift if something really catches my eye as something special for them. They know I am thinking of them, yet they don’t accumulate more things they don’t need. I appreciate when they do the same for me. Easy gift ideas? Your favorite book or a classic you think they might enjoy. A gift card, which I know people hate on, but as an adult-ish individual I can confirm nothing gets me more excited than a Starbucks or Target gift card. As long as you know a place they frequent, I think a gift card is perfectly acceptable. Do they have a pet? Throw in a toy or bag of natural treats for their fur baby. Overall, just attempt to buy smarter. Less money wasted, less stuff wasted.

Next up, look at what you bring into your home.

As Christmas fades out and our mind shifts toward New Year’s Resolutions, I encourage you to take small steps toward being more mindful of your own daily purchases. For me, that means I intend to focus on better clothing purchases. The clothing industry is the second most toxic industry world wide, second only to the oil industry. Reason being: fast fashion. If you are interested in learning more about this, I recommend the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast episode on fast fashion, as well as the documentary The True Cost. The overall message is, buy quality. Not only clothing quality, but companies of quality that treat their employees fairly. This article is a fantastic resource for companies that do just that. One other thing I want to do in the next couple of years is get a higher quality washer and dryer. Our current one isn’t high efficiency and is hard on our clothes. Plus, knowing some basic mending skills, or a good tailor, helps your clothes last and last.

Finally, focus on your daily activities.

Think manageable steps. Like I really hope no one still leaves the water running while they brush their teeth do they? For us, I try to use reusable rags for cleaning, microfiber cloths for dusting, and cloth napkins at dinner. It saves money and paper products. I haven’t purchased a plastic bottle of water in I don’t even know how long. We have a Brita pitcher filter and I take a glass water bottle with me whenever I know I’ll be gone for a while. Plus, throw in a lemon or lime wedge and it tastes far better than your average bottle of water anyway. Run your dishwasher and washer when you have a full load. Turn out unnecessary lights. Buy the large container of yogurt instead of individually wrapped ones. Have your own little garden when it warms up, or grow what you can indoors. Keep the heat lower if you can, we can’t really do this ourselves. With a six month old, we keep the temperature a couple degrees warmer than usual to ensure he’s comfortable. The changes you can implement may differ from mine, the goal is to think of a new idea or two. No matter how small.

As this year ends, we should do what we can to make 2017 better for everyone. And better for our planet.

Small Acts of Education

You know the meme about how the internet lets us have the knowledge of the world at our finger tips, yet we use it to look at cat videos? Well it’s true. As a society we have unprecedented access to documentaries, history videos, articles, and newspapers, yet we very rarely engage in this activity. We instead choose to use our online hours scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or, my guilty pleasure, the humor section of Pinterest. There’s nothing wrong with using technology as relaxation, but I encourage you to branch out in your weekly scrolling to learn a thing or two.

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Image Source

Coursera.org is an amazing resource. I stumbled across the site while we were living abroad and I wanted to ensure my weekdays were spent productively while everyone was at work. You can enroll in college courses, taught by actual professors, and learn through weekly videos and quizzes. You choose any topic of your liking and complete the course within the given time frame. As a history enthusiast, I take as many history courses as I can. I am currently enrolled in a class about the Constitution and Supreme Court cases and find it very enjoyable.

YouTube can be used for good and evil. One of my favorite things to do is to search for videos on topics that pique my interest at the moment. Just be aware of the video source! Obviously anyone can post anything they like. There are a number of old History Channel style documentaries out there, my favorite channel for quick and interesting lessons is Crash Course. I am making my way through the U.S. History playlist.

Read for pleasure. Read for knowledge. I will reread Harry Potter for decades to come, but I am aware that does little to expand my knowledge of society. Previously, I could make my way through a book a week. I have always loved reading, however my pace has slowed recently. Currently I finish a book a month, and I try to balance the topic. If I read a lighthearted book one month, I shift to a mystery, then a history book or two. My best literary purchase was No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is a book about FDR, Eleanor, and their presidential and personal history. Though over six hundred pages long, I was fascinate from beginning to end. I bought the book on a whim from the clearance section of a Barnes and Noble. Go to book stores or scour online vendors, Half.com has great items too. Read things you agree with, read things that challenge your views, and don’t be afraid to choose something you originally wouldn’t have given a second glance. That’s where a lot of the gems are hidden.

Engage in civil debates. This one can be tricky, as a number of topics make people very heated very quickly. Shying away from controversial topics often only breathes more life into them, as does going into a conversation ready for a verbal battle. Listen. Process. Respond. The hope is both parties come away with something new to ponder.

Podcasts. Each month I try to include my favorite podcast, some are for fun, but most are inspiring and educational. True crime listening is still where my heart lies, but you can learn quite a lot from those as well. Look up what piques your interest in each episode of your chosen show.

Lastly, research constantly. Whether you are simply looking up a new word or delving into economic policy, don’t hesitate to question what you hear. Wanting to learn more keeps your brain working in new ways and, hey, it can make for more entertaining dinner conversation as well.

Read up!

November Favorites

Let the holiday season commence. Thanksgiving is just over a week away. How insane. Going through the holidays this year will have a whole new meaning as it is our first with a baby. While he will be too small to remember it, I intend to make memories all the same. My mind isn’t quite in a holiday state yet, as is reflected in my favorites this month. I am still all about my cold brew and Netflix, not quite ready to give in to a more festive routine. Enjoy!

Podcast

stuff-mom-never-told-you

Stuff Mom Never Told You – When I’m not binge listening to true crime or my guilty pleasures, I like to learn a little something. SMNTY, pronounced “sminty”, covers a number of todays hottest female related topics such as gender stereotypes, feminism, and whether men are just more inclined to be geniuses (spoiler: no). They have new episodes once or twice a week, and their archives are full of gems as well.

Drink

spiced-sweet-cream-cold-brew

Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew – This weather has been unseasonably warm, so I am not ready to slip into my regular order of a Gingerbread Latte. If you’re an iced coffee or cold brew fan, this one is for you. I love my hot coffee straight up, no cream or sugar, but this is a perfectly sweet cold option.

Netflix Series

the-crown

The Crown – Kate Middleton really brought the monarchy back to the public eye, but Queen Elizabeth is such a badass in her own right. This drama is based on the Windsor House, particularly Queen Elizabeth. The series is so well cast, you feel yourself drawn in right away. I have been obsessed with England since we went for a visit two years ago and this helps me feel a little more connected to my Anglophile soul.

Cleaning Item

wireless-wipes

Wireless Wipes – When Clint goes down to nap, I try to spend five to ten minutes doing a quick clean up of the house. Putting his toys away, wiping down the kitchen counters, or sanitizing our electronics. You can get these wipes on Amazon, I use them twice a week on average on everything from phones to my laptop to the baby monitor. One wipe typically cleans everything and things dry quickly so you can use them right away.

What series are you currently loving? Netflix or otherwise? Fill me in below!

 

Small Acts of Organization

No one has free time anymore. And if you do, it’s spend scanning emails or sitting and thinking, trying to remember that one thing that escaped your mind earlier in the day. Your house is a constant mess, you could never have friends and coworkers over spontaneously. Laundry is not done when you need it, let alone ironed! Your nails are chipped, your hair is over grown, and you cringe at the sight of your dirty car interior.

You may relate to one, or all, of the above scenarios. Just typing brought on a rather intense amount of stress. The point is, we’re all too busy and distracted. We spend hours pinning cleaning schedules and recipes, but never implement them into our routines. I am absolutely guilty of this, I adore an all encompassing to do list. Yet often times, all the tasks remain unchecked, in eternal undone limbo.

So without further ado I present to your my November series “Small Acts…” I intend to provide you with fast, valuable ways to improve your daily life. The holidays are here and New Year’s Resolutions will be made before too long, so what better time to start improving ourselves in the smallest of ways? We’ll kick off with possibly the nearest and dearest to my heart, organization. I’ve mentioned previously my affinity for planners – I even color blocked my daily time line back in college, long before it was cool. I have also posted about the importance of schedules, whether for cleaning or for your family. The point is to prioritize what will make your life easier.

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Meal planning – I plan by the week, not the day. I have a set list of recipes I will make for the week (meatloaf, tacos, chicken and rice, chicken with barbecue sauce or a good french mustard…) and the other dinner are pasta, frozen pizza, or leftovers. Something quick and easy that we always have on hand. Which way do you prefer? If you prefer the set schedule so you can prep in advance, plan by the day. Sometimes we’ll have just had chicken for lunch or my husband ate lunch late, or didn’t have time for lunch at all. I am able to adapt to each situation.

Scheduling – We don’t have a lot going on outside of the home right now. Once Clint is old enough for sports, school, and activities, he will get his own color coded pen. Scheduling currently involves housework, exercise, pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, and any appointments for myself. If I have an upcoming time period where I will be away from Clint, that means I need to prepare and pump a bottle for him. Knowing my grocery days aids in my aforementioned meal planning. Scheduling my workouts helps keep me accountable, I schedule five a week, though often I get in three or four. Since we go on frequent walks and I am currently breastfeeding, I don’t sweat it too much.

Planners/Calendars – Bullet journals are awesome. Well, they look awesome. At the moment, I don’t have the time or energy to create a weekly layout and plan, so I need a good planner instead. I love planners you can take with you, something large enough to hold an extra notepad or birthday cards to send out. Another alternative is keeping everything digital in an Apple or Google Calendar. I do both, a digital and physical calendar. You can share events on your digital one and I like the tangibility of having things written down as well. For a family, you may want to add in a calendar command center as well. A prominently displayed wall calendar with everyone’s schedule on it. This makes cross referencing easy and provides visual reminders.

Daily cleaning – I keep my housework on a weekly schedule, but there are certain tasks I do every day. Sweeping the kitchen, either washing dishes or running the dishwasher, wiping down surfaces as I go in both the kitchen and bathrooms. There are also certain windows our dog is obsessed with looking out of, I have to clean them every day or every other day. If I spend five or so minutes a day doing all of this, at least I am not totally off guard when someone stops by. Yeah, I would love for everything to be perfect all the time, but at least things are mostly clean.

Single tabbing – The majority of us have the tendency to get online and open up a few websites at once. Netflix, your favorite blog, something you intend on researching maybe, next thing you know, half an hour has gone by and your haven’t done much of anything. This is a bad habit of mine. I am working on only opening one thing at a time, I watch the video I want or look up that one thing I was curious about and am able to get off the computer faster. Give it a try for a week and let me know how it goes.

Keep an open mind. Try a couple of these tips out and see how they do, or don’t, work for you.

October Favorites

HAPPY FALL! I am stoked for this time of year. Though I have yet to down my first hipster Pumpkin Spice Latte (anyone else over this pumpkin spice everything craze?) I have been enjoying the outdoors with long leisurely walks each day. I hope a few of my favorites can help you enjoy October at a more relaxing speed as well.

Podcast 

the-bitch-bible

The Bitch Bible – Host Jackie Schimmel isn’t looking to take anything too seriously. And that is exactly the attitude I need in my life right now as I face down a baby in the middle of a sleep regression phase. Her honest conversations are refreshing and not overly rehearsed. Major language disclaimer, but worth a listen if that doesn’t offend you.

Nail Polish

essie

Hi Maintenance by Essie – Fall is usually about dark colors, but I am all about this neutral and light pink. I use three coats to get the perfect opaque, but not overly so vibe.

Drink

mint-melange-tea

Trader Joe’s Mint Melange Tea – I love to sip on something warm this time of year. TJ’s mint melange tea is just minty enough with out being too pepperminty or overwhelmingly refreshing. It’s comforting and is the perfect way to relax before bed in the evening, or to enjoy while savoring a quiet moment.

Baby Item

coconut-oil

Coconut Oil – Baby skin is sensitive. You want to preserve that freshness, but often the more you put on, the more you can risk irritation. Every night Clint gets a little baby massage with organic coconut oil. Then his cozy pajamas help it soak in his skin while he sleeps. Not only does he smell amazing, but it helps Clint stay soft and smooth.

Way to Unwind

moon-x-pinot-noir

Moon X Pinot Noir – Yup. Another Trader Joe’s fave of mine. This gem is $6.99 a bottle, plus I find it far superior to most $15+ reds. It’s crazy smooth, providing a welcome transition from a summer rose to the delicious reds of winter. Pour it in your fanciest wine glass and throw back a couple of glasses.

Reading Material

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Texture – Alright, my faves are running a bit long this month, but I had to throw this one in too. I have a couple of must have magazine subscriptions – Real Simple, Food & Wine – but outside of that I can usually take it or leave it due to the sheer volume and price of newsstand magazines. Enter Texture. You can peruse a variety of topics from business to fashion to my guilty pleasure: gossip mags. The current issues and a number of back issues are accessible, which is awesome when you’re on a binge reading kick. Before you sign up, do a google search to check if there are any current promos. For example, I just got three months for ten dollars. Awe. Some.

Stay cozy!!! xx.

Quick and Healthy “Sausage” Zucchini Dish

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The best thing about fall is eating seasonally means all the squash varieties you can get your hands on! I love spaghetti squash, but am horrible at slicing it effectively. I know zoodles (zucchini noodles) are the new pasta, but spiralizers are surprisingly expensive! I prefer a chop and go method. My new favorite lunch is vegetarian – and can be vegan if you omit or alter the cheese.

Ingredients:
– 1 tablespoon coconut oil
– 1 zucchini squash, sliced
– approx 1 cup mushrooms
– 2 veggie sausage patties (I prefer Trader Joe’s breakfast sausage patties in the freezer section)
– 1/2 cup marinara sauce
– 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella
– Fresh black pepper

Directions:
In a large pan heat coconut oil until melted, add zucchini. Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, flip zucchini slices. Add mushrooms, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, heat up sausage patties in the microwave, about 45 seconds on each side. Chop up sausage patties, add to pan with marinara sauce. Cook until your dish is steaming. Plate it and add cheese and black pepper to taste.

What’s great about this, is nothing is exact. Meaning you don’t have to keep a close eye on it while your babe is fussy… When it’s done, you have a fast, cozy fall dish that is packed with nutrition and will actually keep you full. Happy noshing!

Surviving Sleep Regression

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Around two and a half months into motherhood, I got really cocky. Clint was sleeping through the night (8 pm – 5 am, nurse, sleep until 8), and I was beginning to catch up on my own deficit. Three weeks ago, that all went away. Clint is now getting up two to three times a night, and though I am able to phase him away from that some nights, we have a ways to go before things smooth out.

The regression is frustrating. I feel like we’re back at square one. Some days my patience does not exist, and we have a relatively calm baby! We are fortunate, but those fussy moments can be grating for any parent, especially as your one sleep cycle is increasingly thrown off.

I know we will get through this soon, but until then I’ve needed some help.

Collagen is awesome. We’re all familiar with collagen and its anti aging effects being plastered on skin care products for years. Now, a lot of collagen supplements help improve the appearance of your skin by keeping it hydrated.

I don’t have the time, or the desire, to apply a lot of make up in the morning. Prioritize. A good concealer is a must, I am really liking Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser. It offers coverage without being super cakey, because sleep deprivation and poorly blended concealer is a horrible look on anyone.

Cold brew gets me through my mornings. I make it with some mocha syrup, or just cinnamon and almond milk depending on what I am feeling that day. It helps keep me full and energized as I workout and sneak in a few household tasks while Clint naps.

The Office/Parks & Rec/Golden Girls, essentially, comedic relief for when things get rough. We aren’t big television watchers, but I enjoy the background noise of my favorite shows. They help to keep me entertained and laughing without requiring any concentration. If I get a quiet moment, I enjoy my Poirot episodes on Netflix, or if I am really lucky I can knock a few pages out of a book. It’s rough going at the moment!

Prep your breakfast the night before. I will make either a smoothie or oatmeal with fruit and pop it in the fridge for the morning. Some days the thought of throwing together something to eat is exhausting. If you want more energy, add some spinach or green powder to your smoothie. I love The Daily Good greens from Aloha. Plus, the additional vitamins help keep your immune system up, something easily compromised as you lose sleep.

Weekly outings with Clint are important for me. You need to know there is life after sleep regression. You also need to know it is possible to have a relaxing life with your baby. It can be something as small as a quick trip to get groceries, or an all morning outing with the family on the weekend. Being in new environments also helps build confidence in yourself as a mother and increases a bond with your baby. At least, that’s how I feel about it. The background noise and different surroundings are good for your baby to be exposed to, while providing a welcome change of scenery for me as well!

A Guide to the Best Crime Podcasts

I got super into listening to podcasts in late 2014 when we moved abroad. It was an easy way to pass the time and I found hearing the English language to be rather soothing at that point. We were living in Germany and a German speaker I was not. Anyway, I found a great variety of podcasts to listen to: history, self improvement, documentary (hello Serial!), but I was left wanting when it came to my favorite genre of all time. The topic of true crime. Podcasts hadn’t quite blown up to what they are today, though they were increasing in popularity by the day. I was able to find some true crime shows, but they didn’t have the quality or content I was craving.

Thankfully, that void has been filled.

Not all podcasts are for everyone, that is also – and possibly, especially – true with such a sensitive topic as murder. Clint and I spend a few hours each week catching up on my podcast queue. I will be in big trouble when he becomes more aware and starts talking, I don’t want his first word to be “murder”. Until then, I will enjoy my guilty pleasures and I hope this guide helps in choosing which station will speak to your soul.

the-last-podcast-on-the-left
If you want your murder stories told to you by the drunk frat guys next door, you will enjoy The Last Podcast on the Left. This one is not for the easily offended, but it is crazy entertaining and in many cases, the guys really do their research.

lore

If you’re into folklore and ghost stories, check out Lore. The host of this podcast is perfect for the genre. His voice captures the creepiness and weight of each topic. Some topics are merely stories, some are murders or crimes from the past told in a different light.

My Favorite Murder

If you’re listening for the story telling and aren’t too fact obsessed, you’ll like My Favorite Murder. If you read my August Favorites post, you have already heard of this one. MFM is my hands down favorite. I have made my way through all of their archived episodes an anxiously await the new ones each week.

criminal

If you like to examine crime from a number of angles, and not just murder, head over to Criminal. Criminal puts society in a different light. You end up empathizing with certain subjects, or rooting for the guy on the inside. Very cool.

true-crime-garage

If you’re into something a little bit creepier than all of the above, I recommend True Crime Garage. From the audio clips they play to the intense individuals they profile, this one might be the creepiest to listen to while home alone.

someone-knows-something

If you’re into a super in depth analysis of one particular crime, tune into Someone Knows Something. SKS reminds me of the Netflix series, Making a Murderer. There are interviews, perspectives from people who have been there, and fantastic storytelling that allows you to really envision each scene. This is the most recent one I’ve stumbled upon – and binge listened to – this month.

Happy listening!

September Favorites

Though it is still blisteringly hot outside, fall IS coming! I think… This month has been all about trying to create a schedule for Clint. I likely would not have survived without a few of my select favorites featured below. A large dose of comedy, followed by some good old workout endorphins, and a new coffee treat are my key players at the moment!

Drink

chile-mocha

Starbucks Chile Mocha – I love a little spice. Starbucks new fall flavor doesn’t pack quite as much heat as I was hoping, but it is seriously flavorful. If you’re wanting to switch it up from your usual autumn PSL, give this one a go.

Home Item

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Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle – I am unbelievably ready for fall this year. This summer was way too hot and fall means apple cider and delicious new candles. Plus I have my eye on a cozy sweater or two! As fall approaches, snuggle up with this candle. Surprisingly, it’s not too sweet and floats through the entire house wonderfully.

Netflix

john-mulaney-the-comeback-kid

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid – I really didn’t think I would have anything new for this category. I’ve been watching my go to shows: Poirot, Parks & Rec, The Office… But after putting Clint to bed one night I was scrolling through the comedy section and saw this stand up special. I don’t often find stand up funny. The comedians tend to lean toward the vulgar and extreme just to get a few laughs, but this was hilarious! Plus, this special was Emmy nominated. Highly recommended.

Insta

We Rate Dogs (weratedogs) – I admittedly will follow as many funny animal accounts I can find, but this one is my favorite. Whoever writes their captions is my humor twin. They feature dogs, not dogs, and dogs they claim not to be dogs. You have to scroll through to see what I mean. We Rate Dogs never fails to act as a pick me up at the end of my day.

Way to Stay Fit

popsugar-fitness

Pop Sugar Fitness – I’ve followed their YouTube channel for years, but haven’t done too many workouts until the past month. I like how they break them up by time increment (20, 30, and 40 minute workouts). I typically click the first one in line based on how much free time I think Clint will give me that morning. Then I work my way through the line up! The variety has allowed me to lose a few pounds, they feature a number of top fitness instructors as well as their own routines. Modifications are always included and the time does, thankfully, pass really quickly when you’re doing these routines!

Enjoy!